My first date with my wife, Laura, was a 1995 showing of Braveheart at the Englert.
A few years later, just as I was finishing high school, the Coralridge Mall opened and laid waste to Iowa City’s retail. Big department stores had either abandoned Iowa City or were getting ready to. There weren’t many decent restaurants, and the bars relied on underage drinking. And the parts of downtown that weren’t bars were rapidly being replaced by more bars.
Then the Englert, the last movie theater in downtown Iowa City, closed. It was going to become a bar.
I was in college — the downtown scene was being build for my cohort! — but I was heartened when a group of locals launched the Save the Englert campaign and managed to do just that.
Since then, the Englert has become a cultural beacon, hosting hundreds of show a year, organizing festivals and helping program arts across the community. And FilmScene has brought movies — good ones — back to the heart of Iowa City. And Saturday, they launched a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen our existing venues, grow the arts into new spaces and with new festivals and evolve our organizations with community-driven arts access and education. You can read more about it here.
Here comes the appeal. We’ve given. We’ve asked our friends to give. And I’m asking you to consider giving. These opportunities don’t come around very often.